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By investing in well-built equipment you can minimise downtime – and damage to your brand.

‘OUT OF ORDER.’ Those are three words no fitness facility owner or member wants to see. Recurring equipment problems can seriously damage the brand of your club. In addition to provoking a torrent of complaints at your front desk, ‘OUT OF ORDER’ signs can have a significant impact on member recruitment, retention and ancillary revenues. To prevent this from occurring, you must find ways to reduce the number and duration of equipment outages. That means sourcing equipment that ticks the boxes of dependability, longevity and ease of service. Here are five features to look for that can drive service time down and satisfaction up.

1. Built-in diagnostics

Diagnostics give you a critical window into the performance status of your equipment, alerting you to potential service issues before they are compounded by additional factors. By improving the speed and accuracy of error detection, such diagnostic tools cut down on warranty costs and major repairs.

2. Networked fitness

By networking all of the treadmills within a fitness facility and then studying their usage trends, you can optimise the layout and configuration of your club to reduce equipment wear and tear. For instance, you can monitor whether a popular treadmill is being overused. To reduce the strain on valuable equipment, you may rotate treadmills at that location from time to time, or influence traffic patterns to encourage a more even distribution of equipment usage.

3. High quality production and assembly

You should source equipment from established manufacturers with state-of-the-art production processes. You get what you pay for. The better the materials and assembly of your equipment, the less time and money you’ll spend on service issues. Rollers, for instance, are among the items most frequently replaced on a treadmill due to bearings failures caused by friction and impact. Look for a manufacturer that makes its rollers from raw, cold-rolled steel and uses high-quality bearings that significantly reduce the rate of roller replacement.

4. Easily replaceable and reversible parts

Even with proper maintenance and care, certain treadmill parts will inevitably become worn after extensive use. Look for treadmills that are designed so that service technicians can swap out the belt and deck without having to disassemble the trim strips or side frame, and without having to move the treadmill from its location. Some even have reversible decks, allowing club owners to double the life of the running surface by simply flipping the deck over to the other side.

5. Easy-to-clean surfaces

Designing treadmills so that they are easy to clean sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many manufacturers get this wrong. Treadmills should be free of small cracks and seams where food and dirt particles can become lodged and impossible to reach.

Eliminating ‘OUT OF ORDER’ signs in your facility starts with selecting the right equipment. By making the right choices, not only will your service costs drop, but your members will thank you for making sure their favourite machine is always ready and waiting for them.

Jack Trummer is vice president of sales for the Americas and APAC region for fitness equipment brand Precor. Precor recently launched its new Experience Series treadmill, which is based explicitly on operator, exerciser and service technician feedback.

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